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Rams stock up, stock down: Sean McVay’s play-calling must improve

Sean McVay let the Rams down with his play-calling against the Bengals

Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams fell to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, 19-16. While an overall frustrating performance with a disappointing outcome, there were some positive and negative takeaways from the game. The Rams were arguably let down by their head coach who called 10 run plays against one of the NFL’s worst run defenses. However, the defense played very well throughout the game. Here’s this week’s stock up, stock down.

Stock Down: Sean McVay’s Play-calling

This was one of the worst called games from an offensive standpoint in the Sean McVay era. The Rams were playing the 31st ranked run defense and ran the ball 10 times with Kyren Williams. From an efficiency and EPA standpoint, the Rams were three times more effective running the ball than throwing in the first three quarters of the game.

To put it simply, the Rams head coach has to be better and he was a primary reason for their loss on Monday Night Football. The offense needs to be more balanced and get back to what was working in Week 1.

Stock Up: Byron Young

As he continues to get more NFL reps, Byron Young just continues to get better. He had five pressures and his pass-rush win-rate of 19.6 percent ranked inside the top-15 among edge rushers in Week 3. Young has at least five pressures in two out of the three games this season. Leonard Floyd didn’t hit two games with at least five pressures until Week 12 in 2022.

Young was the seventh-highest graded edge rusher in Week 3 according to Pro Football Focus. He’s been a bright spot on the Rams defense and has shown that he’s someone to build around.

Stock Down: Offensive Line

For the most part in this game, the offensive line was a problem. This was a second consecutive game that Joe Noteboom left, but was able to return this time. Alaric Jackson left and did not return, leaving Zach Thomas at left tackle.

This group would have been helped by a more balanced offensive attack. However, their pass protection, even in the first half, left a lot to be desired. Stafford was pressured on 50 percent of his dropbacks which was tied for the second-most in the NFL in Week 3.

We’ve seen how well Stafford performs when protected and even when he deals with a little bit of pressure. The Rams’ starting quarterback stood no chance on Monday Night and the team needs to do a better job of protecting him.

Stock Up: Raheem Morris’ Defense

Raheem Morris’ defense did everything but score a touchdown against the Bengals. They got stops when needed and only allowed one touchdown. Ahkello Witherspoon got their first turnover of the season with an impressive interception. They were getting pressure on Burrow throughout much of the game.

The defense put together a performance that deserved a win. Their success-rate of 34.2 percent was the fifth-best in the NFL in Week 3. The Rams were the only team in the top-5 in success rate not to win. Morris has this group playing very well. In three games, they’ve allowed more than 20 points just once.

Stock Down: Season Outlook

Had the Rams been able to beat the Cincinnati Bengals and move to 2-1, the outlook for the season would have been sky high. After coming into 2023 with the expectation that the Rams might be bad enough for the number one pick, sitting at 2-1 would have felt really nice. To be 2-1 with a good chance of going 3-1, the expectations would have moved to contenders for a playoff spot.

Instead, the Rams sit at 1-2. To be fair, that’s right where I had them to begin the season. However, Monday Night was an opportunity to beat a good team on the road and the Rams beat themselves.